Ontario PC Leader John Tory vows to stay on
Published Thursday, December 13, 2007 5:27PM EST
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 7:20PM EDT
TORONTO - Embattled Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory dug in his heels Thursday and vowed to hang on to his job as card-carrying party members who are agitating for a leadership review complained that their plans are being intentionally thwarted.
Disgruntled Conservatives met last week to step up their bid to trigger a leadership review in the face of the party's disastrous Oct. 10 election campaign, decried by some as the party's worst ever.
Now, some party sources tell The Canadian Press that they are being deliberately shut out of the delegate selection process in what they believe is a behind-the-scenes effort to bolster support for Tory at the party's annual meeting in February.
"We've heard from a number of folks that are concerned the party may be moving quickly and quietly on some delegate selection meetings,'' said one party insider pushing for a leadership review.
"If there are individuals who have tried to have meetings early and quickly to shore up support for the leader, it's unfortunate that might be the position they have to take.''
The party is supposed to give 15 days notice of delegate selection meetings in each riding, but some party veterans said they were having trouble finding out about their meetings, or that their names had been left off the local riding association list.
"There was a commitment made to post delegate selection meetings on the party website. That just happened today, with two delegate selection meetings tonight and another Saturday, (and) there are several that have already happened,'' said one of the organizers of the anti-Tory camp.
"We just want to make sure that members who want to express their view on the future of the party and become a delegate to the convention are able to do that.''
There were also computer problems at party headquarters that prevented new members from joining the Progressive Conservative party, which at least one member said looked suspicious.
Party sources say there is still a lot of anger directed at Tory over the recent election loss, particularly the much-maligned religious-schools proposal, which dominated the fall campaign.
But Tory said he's not going anywhere just yet.
"In a healthy political party, especially one that is Conservative, there are going to be people who have differing views on these kinds of things and that's a sign of a good party that has a good healthy debate,'' Tory said.
"I intend to stay as the leader of the party. I have work that I think I can continue to do to rebuild this party and to lead it forward to a success in the 2011 election. I will go forward to the February meeting confident that people believe that I represent the best choice to lead the party forward.''
Tory isn't hinging his leadership on any special threshold of support at the February meeting _ a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one would be enough, he said.
"That's what the rules say and I'm going to play by the rules.''
After he failed to win a seat in the legislature, Tory is spending most of his time these days courting party members, including those in the federal government.
He met Wednesday in Ottawa with members of Ontario's federal Conservative caucus, many of whom could be among the delegates asked in February whether they want Tory's leadership reviewed.
But Tory said those meetings are more about listening to their concerns and suggestions than saving his leadership after the party's election defeat.
Tory said members are focused on improving the way party policy is developed following the sound rejection, by both voters and party insiders, of a Conservative proposal to fund faith-based schools.
Many are also anxious to see the party's election debt wiped out, he added.
"I'm meeting a lot of people as I travel the province who are going to be delegates to the convention in February,'' he said.
"I'm listening to them and indicating to them that I think I can lead the party forward to success in 2011 but I have lots of other things I'm doing at the same time.''